Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

4-11-2018

Degree Program

Plant Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2018

Month Degree Awarded

May

Abstract

The following contains two projects focused on the fungal pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum. The first project was purely computational in the examination of transposable elements (TEs), which are mobile sequences with the ability to multiply and move in their host genome. In F. oxysporum, TEs such as miniature impala elements are associated with the secreted in xylem gene that are related to its virulence over its host. The F. oxysporum species complex can be utilized as a model system for the examination of TE content and TE expression during the infection cycle. To find whether TEs play a role in the infection process and if their expression changes when fungi are in planta, a comparison was made using RNA-seq data from a pathogenic (Fo5176) and a non-pathogenic strain (Fo47) of F. oxysporum interacting with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Complementary to this, the copy numbers of the same TEs were calculated in the two aforementioned strains and in F. oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici 4287 (Fo4287) to find if there was a correlation between expression and copy number. Using these two different datasets together showed that TE expression and copy number are lower in the non-pathogenic strain and unlinked in the infection course.

The second project examined the growth inhibition of Fusarium oxysporum isolates Fo32931 (the isolate pathogenic to immunocompromised humans) and Fo4287 with the use of extracts from chilies of Capsicum chinense. Pepper plants were grown from seed and the peppers were harvested for an ethanol (100%) extraction. After preparation, the optical density of growth of the F. oxysporum isolates was measured for a 48-hour period with 96-well plate containing varying concentrations of the extracts and controls. Growth curves were analyzed and normalized to a growth control. After doing High Performance Liquid Chromatography, an estimated concentration of capsaicin (the causal agent of the burning sensation from hot chilis) was established. A correlation between the amount of growth inhibition and the concentration of capsaicin was made. Taken together, the data suggests that an increase of capsaicin concentration in extracts is correlated with reduced growth for the two tested isolates of F. oxysporum.

First Advisor

Dr. Li-jun Ma

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